The wholesale distribution industry dealt with its fair share of turbulence during the pandemic, but it’s poised for growth over the next few years. According to the Wholesale Global Market Report 2021, the industry is looking at a compound annual growth rate of 7% through 2025, from $49 trillion to $64 trillion globally.
However, as the wholesale industry looks toward an optimistic future, the rapidly changing business landscape presents challenges for the industry’s workforce and technology infrastructure. For example, the shift toward direct-to-consumer sales models means that many distributors are differentiating themselves with value-added services, channels, and customer-focused solutions. This directly impacts the skills and competencies that wholesale distributors need in their workforce. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, demand for lower-income positions, such as clerks and administrative assistants, will decrease by 13%. Meanwhile, the need for bachelor’s degree-level positions, such as software developers and market research analysts, will increase by 17% percent, and wholesale distributors are expected to hire 17% more employees with master’s degrees.
Gen Z’ers now entering the workforce have different expectations for their work environment. Previous generations were used to manual processes and complex workarounds; younger generations, who’ve grown up in a digital world, are asking for more efficient, technology-driven ways to accomplish tasks. In fact, this is one primary reason why many wholesale distributors have implemented Oracle Fusion Cloud Order Management. It enables companies to automate and streamline end-to-end order management processes, such as capturing, validating, and promising orders, orchestrating deliveries with multiple fulfillment options, as well as managing exceptions and pricing with advanced functionality for dynamic and segmented pricing.
Also, younger workers tend to view their workplace through a lens of social change, often seeking out companies that are committed to positive change in the world with strong environmental, social, corporate governance (ESG) and diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). This is a great opportunity for distributors to adopt sustainability strategies and operations to attract and retain talent, to source responsibly and to reduce logistics costs and carbon footprint at the same time.
With the recent increase in hybrid and remote work, remote-only roles quickly became mainstream as employers and employees alike realized that working from anywhere provided a tremendous amount of flexibility. This means distributors can now attract talent from a much broader geographic region, and workers aren’t necessarily limited to their local area. This also allows distributors to expand their service territory by shifting to a hybrid sales model. For distributors who can adapt the workforce through disruptions and adopt the processes and infrastructure needed to accommodate the future of work, the future looks bright.
The changing workforce and business landscape means wholesale distributors need to stay ahead of the curve to ensure they have the right people for the right jobs, and they can give employees the right tools to do their jobs effectively. A robust HR application suite, like Oracle Cloud HCM, can give wholesale distributors functionality from workforce planning, recruiting, learning, talent management to payroll.
For employees, a unified solution means a better employee experience with the latest digital technologies, and the knowledge and support they need to be successful in new and existing roles. It also helps employees to understand their customers better. Analytics are accessible into inventory and demand. Processes are integrated across sales, operations and finance to support intelligent decision-making and action. The integrated solution helps distributors automate their aging manual processes to better meet customer expectations with the right product at the right time.
Oracle Cloud Applications bring together supply chain, order management, HR, and finance on one cloud platform with a common data model. That means HR personnel can manage a single employee record across HR, supply chain and finance, which reduces duplicate data and errors for things like time and labor and payroll. The tightly integrated HR, operations, and finance functionality also enables executives and managers to collaborate and plan for the future—something that will be especially important as wholesale distribution leaders manage the major industry workforce demographic changes that are predicted in the coming years.
With nearly $2 billion in annual sales, Dallas-based Mouser Electronics is the seventh largest distributor of electronic components in the world. Mouser’s modern cloud infrastructure has helped the company to seamlessly adapt business operations during the pandemic so employees could stay safe and work from home—all while continuing to ship products globally to its 630,000 customers.
Despite the rapidly evolving business climate in the wholesale distribution industry, distributors hold tremendous promise for their workforce, with stable, well-paying jobs and career growth opportunities. This is welcome news for an industry that employs approximately six million people, representing about 4% of the U.S. workforce. According to the National Association of Wholesalers and Distributors, 50% to 75% of expenses in the wholesale industry are attributed to employees, so it is clear why leading Wholesale Distributors are employing intelligent, cloud-based capabilities to attract and retain talent, manage diverse workforce, and provide flexibility to adapt to market changes.